HARDWICK — In a follow up to a similar presentation on Nov. 29 of last year, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife reviewed its plans to remove Patrill Hollow Dam in the Muddy Brook Wildlife Management Area.

During a Jan. 29 virtual meeting, MassWildlife reiterated its goals to remove the aging infrastructure to reduce safety risks for users of the Muddy Brook Wildlife Management Area and to reduce the potential for flooding.

According to the project website, “[The dam] has outlived its original purpose and is in poor condition. Removing this aging dam will improve water quality and aquatic habitat, restore natural river flow, and reduce the potential risk of flooding.”

The project team led by MassWildlife Central District Supervisor Todd Olanyk presented the overview with the intent of improving the water quality while correcting the natural Chicopee River flow, improving habitats for fish and other aquatic life as well as outdoor recreation activities.

The dam structure is a 13-foot high, 190-foot-long earthen embankment that encloses Muddy Brook utilizing a primary and an auxiliary concrete spillway.

The removal of the dam, which is owned and managed by MassWildlife, is also expected to eliminate the costs associated with ongoing repairs and maintenance.

The project is designed as an ecological restoration project and filed as such with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office, identifying its primary purpose as to restore or otherwise improve the natural capacity of the environment.

Funding for the removal of eight aging dams in Massachusetts was announced in December by the Healey-Driscoll administration.

“This summer, we saw firsthand the catastrophic impacts of severe flooding and the stress and pressure it puts on our dams,” Healey said. “This is a lifesaving investment that will protect our residents’ and communities’ safety and security.”

The project is to be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act and will be carried out in partnership with multiple state and federal agencies. The project is subjects by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the town of Hardwick Conservation Commission.

With final removal plans anticipated by the fall, the project would commence during spring 2025 and be completed the following year.

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